Fast jets, spy planes and helicopters: On board the warships ready to strike Iran

Sky News is given rare access to Abraham Lincoln and to some smaller ships at a US naval base in Bahrain.

By Deborah Haynes, foreign affairs editor

British and US warships patrol the Gulf to protect shipping and prevent Iran seizing more tankers

Fast jets, spy planes and helicopters fly scores of sorties every day from a US aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea, positioned within striking distance of Iran.

President Donald Trump moved USS Abraham Lincoln and other warships into the region in May, slightly sooner than planned, as tensions grew between Washington and Tehran.

Officers say their mission is to deter Iranian forces from attacking US targets.

But they are also prepared to launch offensive strikes if given the order.

U.S. Navy's Rear Adm. Michael E. Boyle, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, addresses Sailors on the fantail of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), in Arabian Sea, July 4, 2019. Picture taken July 4, 2019. Dan Snow/U.S. Navy/
Image:Rear Admiral Michael Boyle is commander of Carrier Strike Group 12

“A large part of deterrence is the readiness that backs that deterrence up,” said Rear Admiral Michael Boyle, commander of Carrier Strike Group 12.

“We are ready to defend the US and the US interests if called upon… My job is to be here, to be ready, to deter and to defend if required,”

The carrier has not transited through the Strait of Hormuz – the main focus point of the crisis with Iran – despite the ship’s deployment to the region being highly publicised by President Trump and other members of the administration.